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California Health Journalism Fellowship brings 20 reporters to USC for training and launch of ambitious reporting projects

California Health Journalism Fellowship brings 20 reporters to USC for training and launch of ambitious reporting projects

Picture of Michelle Levander
Fellows participate in a discussion at the fellowships
(Albert Sabaté/Reporting on Health)

Twenty California journalists are gathering this week for the USC Annenberg California Health Journalism Fellowship. We've had a great and inspiring time with them. 

The journalists, chosen from a competitive field, are taking part in intensive workshops and then spending six months working on ambitious health journalism projects with support from USC Annenberg.

Topics explored during the weeklong fellowship include connections between community health and where and how you live, the successes and challenges of health reform and health care innovations that are making a difference in the lives of Californians.

The Fellows work for California outlets, including major daily newspapers and public radio stations, regional newspapers, online news outlets and ethnic media outlets.

“It’s been an amazing opportunity getting to interact with such a talented group of speakers and fellow reporters,” California Health Journalism Fellow Diana Aguilera told me. “It’s a place where reporters can share ideas and learn from the best in health journalism,” said Aguilera, a reporter at Valley Public Radio in Fresno 

We anticipate great things from our California Health Journalism Fellows, who will be exploring critically important community health themes.

Planned projects will explore the increase in new HIV infections among young men in Fresno County; the skyrocketing incidence of domestic violence in Del Norte County; the relationship between substandard housing and illness in Sonoma County; the high incidence of STDs and unplanned pregnancies among Vietnamese Americans; the impact of federal penalties on safety net hospitals; mental health issues among African Americans in the Bay Area; problems with infection control in hospitals in Orange County; and how the state’s health care safety net is evolving under Obamacare.

The 2015 California Health Journalism Fellowship was made possible because of the generous support of The California Endowment and the Blue Shield of California Foundation, two of California’s largest health grant making organizations.

Gerald F. Kominski, Ph.D., director of the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research, kicked off the program Sunday night with a keynote presentation, “What’s Next for Obamacare in California?” In a wide-ranging conversation with Anna Gorman, senior correspondent for Kaiser Health News, Kominski discussed the implications of the Supreme Court’s upcoming King vs. Burwell decision as well as challenges the state faces in making sure that the newly insured gain access to health care, despite physician shortages, “narrow networks” of providers in health plans and cultural barriers.

The journalists also heard expert speakers on promising approaches to mitigating health disparities linked to ethnicity, race and economic status. Dr. Anthony Iton, senior vice president for The California Endowment, told California Health Journalism Fellows that broadening health care access doesn’t solve the underlying problem of poor health. Instead neighborhood-level improvements are what can make for meaningful change.

“Health care is what happens when things go wrong,” he said. “Health care doesn’t actually make you healthy — it prevents you from deteriorating rapidly.”

Fellows also visited an AltaMed clinic in El Monte, which serves a largely Latino and Chinese immigrant community, to see firsthand how pharmacists are providing primary care, along with doctors, to some of the clinic’s sickest patients.

2015 California Health Journalism Fellows

Diana Aguilera, multimedia reporter, Valley Public Radio

Anna Almendrala, healthy living editor, Huffington Post

Avishay Artsy, reporter and producer, KCRW

Claudia Boyd-Barrett, freelance reporter, Ventura County Star

Megan Burks, reporter, KPBS

Andrea Castillo, immigration reporter, Fresno Bee

Jenna Chandler, health reporter, OC Register

Emily Jo Cureton, reporter, Triplicate

Leila Day, reporter/producer, KALW

Jenna Flannigan, senior editor, Healthline Networks

Jenny Gold, reporter, Kaiser Health News

Angela Hartreporter, Santa Rosa Press Democrat

Ana Ibarra, health reporter, Merced Sun-Star

Neda Iranpour, anchor/reporter, San Diego 6 TV (XETV-TV)

Soumya Karlamangla, reporter, Los Angeles Times

Parimal Rohit, freelance reporter, IndiaWest

Alayna Shulman, reporter, Record Searchlight

Julio Vaqueiro, anchor and reporter, KVEA Channel 52 (Telemundo)

Danielle Venton, reporter, KRCB Public Media

Thy Voreporter, Voice of OC

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The Center for Health Journalism is dedicated to supporting journalists covering two of the biggest stories of our time — the twin pandemics of COVID-19 and systemic racism and inequities in America. We provide reporters with intensive training instituteswebinars and tips about craft and content and are providing deep and sustained support for reporters and their newsrooms in this historic and difficult moment. You can donate through the USC web portal at this link. Pressed for time? You can also text to donate! No amount is too small; just send a text to 41-444 and type the message CHJ for further instructions.

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